Good to Go is a column where our food writers explore Dallas’ restaurant scene through takeout orders, delivery boxes and reheated leftovers.
One of the great pleasures of being a food writer is that you start to develop a network of informants, tipsters and spies, much like Sherlock Holmes had his Baker Street Irregulars. Even when Dallas’ iron curtain fell between diners and their dining rooms, the rumor mill kept whispering.
I was especially delighted to receive this text message, from Irregular, attorney-by-day and man of good taste Jamil Bata: “Two-day-old Ly Foods leftover pad Thai eaten cold at a kitchen counter while working from home might be significantly better than fresh?”
Here was an opportunity to do two wonderful things to ease the monotony of sheltering at home: conduct a culinary experiment, and enjoy Lao and Thai food from Ly Food Market, one of Oak Cliff’s best-kept secrets.
Ly Food Market might well be my favorite Thai restaurant in Dallas city limits, a tiny Asian grocery with a kitchen in the back and a counter-ordering setup that already lends itself well to takeout orders.
We called in one lunch hour — business was so slow they didn’t even ask for my name — and shortly I was rolling home on near-empty streets with pad Thai, pad kee mao, three shrimp spring rolls and two links of Laotian sausage.
As a control for our experiment, I sampled some fresh pad Thai immediately ($8 with shrimp). It was perfectly fine: less syrupy and saucy than most versions, with a big scoop of peanuts to stir in.
The pad kee mao was a festival of well-cooked bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, jalapeño slices, Thai basil and, because we’d ordered a combo, three kinds of meat ($8). Actually, the wide, flat noodles themselves were in shorter supply than the toppings.
The real moment of truth came 24 hours later. I was too impatient to wait Bata’s prescribed two days, but I did honor another part of his recommendation by standing over the cold Styrofoam container, eating pad Thai by the forkful at the kitchen counter.
And do you know what? They were better. All of the flavors in the dish — the gentle heat, the peanutty undertone, the shreds of scrambled egg, the sweet-sour tamarind — were just a little bit stronger. Fridge-temp noodles have a kind of wonderful texture.
But even reheated, the pad Thai was better than it had been fresh. Like in an expensive old wine, the flavors had melded together and heightened each other. I was a convert. Pad Thai is made to be leftovers.
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I’d still recommend reheating pad kee mao over having the leftovers cold; those delightful flat noodles fold and stick to themselves.
But there’s one dish you should absolutely never allow to survive to the next day: the spring rolls. Eat spring rolls fresh, folks. As leftovers, the rice paper wrapper hardens and the shrimp we’d ordered also firmed up to an unpleasant degree.
Ly Food Market makes good spring rolls (three with shrimp for $4) and serves outrageously flavorful Lao sausage links, too (two for $5, four for $8). What’s the play here? Easy: Right after bringing home the takeout bag, devour appetizers until you’re full. Those noodles will only get better.
Ly Food Market, 4440 W. Illinois Ave., Suite 400A (Oak Cliff)